Former President Barack Obama’s personal aid Ferial Govashiri spoke to students Friday evening about finding herself, and following passions, both personally and academically.
Govashiri was the keynote speaker at the Oswego State Student Leadership Conference, a two-day event spanning March 3 and 4.
Serving as the commander in chief’s personal advisor during the Obama Administration, Govashiri said she was honored to speak to students, as well as taking a much-needed break away from the Washington D.C. political circuit.
As an Iranian immigrant, Govashiri said her parents’ sacrifice to come to the United States never strayed far from her train of thought. She used it to motivate her and to push herself to do more, never wasting the opportunities presented in this country.
“Govashiri’s statement, ‘I might not have been born in the U.S. I might have never imagined myself working for the president of the U.S. I might be one of the few Iranian-Americans who ever does. But I was not out of place, I was exactly where I belong.’ And as an international student hoping to prosper in my own American dream, that statement inspired me to pursue my destiny and continue to cherish the American values,” student association senator, Omar van Reenen said.
Taking the stage in the Marano Campus Center auditorium, Govashiri spoke to students about using their short time as college students to not only learn and grow, but to find their inner self worth, which is easier said than done on the modern day.
“Use this amazing time in college to be present, open your senses and allow all of your experiences in,” Govashiri said. “Four years actually goes by really fast and you need to make sure you cherish every minute of it. This is the time where you start to build your network and learn what you’re passionate about.”
For Govashiri, passion is what led her to the White House. As a political science student she took the opportunity to intern with campaigns starting in 2007.
“Even though I wasn’t making money and had to move back with my parents for a bit, it was worth it because I was passionate about what I was doing,” Govashiri said.
After her presentation, the forum was opened for students to ask questions.
“It is always fascinating to hear students’ questions,” Govashiri said. “It tells you a lot about what they are going through and if I have even the smallest chance to help, based on my life experience and having been in their shoes once before, it drives me.”
Govashiri said working as Obama’s personal secretary for eight years had been her greatest accomplishment thus far.
As her time in the White House came to a close, Govashiri watched as transition teams between the two presidential administrations worked tirelessly to ease a new presidential team into power.
As far as the new administration goes, Govashiri said she is optimistic. She knows the big task that each administration faces and is giving a fair chance to watch the Trump administration get acclimated to the new role.
“Her venture from being a passionate campaigner infused with her drive for public service enables her to work for president Obama,” van Reenen said. “All because she stayed true to her dreams and trusted the choices she made.”